Dog Food Ingredients in Quality Brands
Some dog lovers may not have the time or the inclination to prepare their canine friend a nutritious meal, built from scratch. Some may be worried that they will not get it right, and leave out some nutritional needs. Whatever the reason, the most popular method for feeding a pet is using commercial dog food as the bases. But there are good dog foods, better dog foods, and commercial dog food that should just be ignored. How do you tell?
That is the purpose of this page; to give some tips on dog food ingredients that you should look for, and to compare dog food ingredients that set aside some brands as the best, while marking other brands as ones best to avoid. With that said, here are several items you should find on the ingredient list of your dog food.
Named animal meat or meat meal
"Meat" or "Poultry" are considered to be anonymous, and a sign of lower quality. This means it could be anything, including road kill or diseased animals. Much better to list the type of animal: "Lamb", "Beef meal", "Duck", and so on.
Either a named animal meat or a named animal meal should be the first ingredient in a quality dog food. If the actual meat is the first ingredient, then a named animal meal should appear somewhere in the first five ingredients. This is because meats are up to 80% moisture, and after processing the weight of that meat will actually contribute much less than the pre-processed weight implies. Meal has already lost most of its moisture, so pre-processed and processed contributions are essentially the same.
There are a couple of reasons why meats and meat meals should rank high when you compare dog food ingredients. First, while a dogs eating habits may look to be omnivorous, there digestions system is more akin to a carnivorous diet. Meat proteins are more readily digested and available to the dogs body than vegetable or fruit based proteins. Second, meats contain all of the essential amino acids your dog requires, while some of the essential amino acids may be lacking in vegetable or fruit ingredients.
Easy on the By-Products!
While a named meat by-product does contain all the required essential amino acids like named meat or named meat meal, it is still of an inferior quality. By-products are the wastage of meat processing, those animal parts not normally intended for human consumption, including feet, heads and brains. It also includes edible meats that have been stored unrefrigerated for too long, again making them not fit for human consumption.
All that said, meat by-product nutritional value is still nearly the same as the meat it came from, so usage of by-products should not keep you from buying that dog food. Realize, however, that the reasons for using by-products in dog food all come down to it is cheaper. So if you see by-products in the ingredient list, do not expect to have to pay top dollar for that dog food.
No artificial coloring
Guess what? Your dog could care less what color her food is, as long as it smells pleasant (to her) and satisfies her nutritional needs. Manufacturers that use artificial colors are actually appealing to you, the human customer and your senses. Some artificial colors may indeed be toxic. If coloring of the food must be done, at least keep in natural, such as caramel.
Chelated minerals are those that have been chemically attached to amino acids. By attaching the mineral to an amino acid, the ability of the dog's body to absorb that mineral are enhanced, as much as 20% better absorption for some minerals, especially selenium, chromium, and iron. Seeing chelated minerals in the ingredient list is a sign of a higher quality dog food, since chelated minerals are more expensive than the minerals otherwise.
To aid you in recognizing chelated minerals, it might be helpful to have some examples of the names used for certain chelated minerals. These include: copper proteinate, zinc chelate, cobalt glucoheptonate.
I hope you enjoyed these ideas on how to compare dog food ingredients. If you want to see specific ratings on individual dog food brands, please visit our Dry Dog Food Review page.
Do you have any questions about dog food ingredients or the differences between low quality and higher quality dog foods? Any comments about the ideas presented to you here? Now is your chance to sound off!